Catherine Swiderski

Matching Grant for Therapy Scholarships Awarded to Nature’s Edge

Rice Lake Community Health Foundation awards therapy scholarships to Nature’s Edge through a matching grant


Dear Friends,

I don’t need to tell you that these are trying times. But even as the Covid-19 pandemic impacts everyday life for all of us, there are still reasons to smile. At Nature’s Edge Therapy Center, we see smiles every day as we continue to provide essential speech and occupational therapy services for our patients and their families, even as we meet the challenges presented by Covid-19.

We see the smile on a patient’s face when he reaches his goal of tying his shoes all by himself after he had told us in frustration during his first occupational therapy session, “I will never be able to tie my shoes.” We see the smiles a family shares when, thanks to speech therapy and working with our wonderful animals, their loved one goes from being unable to make eye contact and introduce himself to not only being willing to introduce himself, but ready to initiate the conversation and then chat up a storm. Smiles happen at home and school too, as progress is continued through parent and teacher support. Successful therapy brings many smiles, even if these days the smiles sometimes happen behind a mask.

It has always been true that because of limitations in insurance coverage, not being able to afford insurance, or other difficult financial situations, many of our patients’ families could not afford treatment at Nature’s Edge without therapy scholarship assistance. This is even truer today as many in our community struggle with the financial consequences of the pandemic. And although Nature’s Edge remained open when schools and other therapy clinics closed, our inability to hold fundraisers this year due to the pandemic has made a big hole in our fundraising efforts.

But we have good news! Nature’s Edge has recently once again been awarded a matching grant for scholarship assistance from the Rice Lake Community Health Foundation. Scholarships such as those supported by the Foundation enable us to provide exceptional therapy to patients and their families who would otherwise be unable to afford it. The Foundation will match our donors’ contributions at $1.50 for each dollar, up to a total amount of $30,000. So when Nature’s Edge raises $20,000 from donor contributions, the Foundation will match each dollar at $1.50 and return $50,000 to Nature’s Edge to be used for scholarship assistance.

And there is even more good news. A private trust has stepped up to match that same $20,000 at $1.50 for each dollar and donate up to an additional $30,000 as a Generosity Pledge. This means that each $1 you donate this year toward patient scholarships becomes $4. Donor contributions totaling $20,000 will become $80,000!

You can help us keep the smiles coming at Nature’s Edge. Your generous donation will be applied exclusively to scholarship assistance. If you would like more information about Nature’s Edge or our therapy scholarship program, please call our office at 715-859-6670. Please visit our website to donate at; or mail us payment to make checks payable to the Rice Lake Community Health Foundation to ensure our match.

On behalf of all of us at Nature’s Edge, thank you for your support. We wish you and your family health, safety and happiness. Together, we can overcome all things.

With gratitude,

Becky L. Payne MATCCC/SLP/HPCS – Director

Using Visual Aids to Support Daily Routines

Using Visuals Aids to Support Daily Routines


Have you ever wondered what a visual schedule is or a first then board? These visual supports can be used as a way to communicate with children who have difficulty understanding or communicating their needs. They support communication between parents, caregivers, and children and are useful in promoting social interaction, language, and positive behaviors. Examples of visual supports include communication boards, first then boards, or visual schedules. Children who have difficulty communicating may experience frustration in their daily routines. Visuals supports are useful in promoting direction following, completion of daily routines, communication of needs and requests, and positive social interaction.

A “first then board” can be used as a behavioral support or to teach new skills.  These boards generally include a non-preferred task followed by a more preferred task. A child who does not prefer bath time may have a board that includes bath first then story time.

Visual schedules are used to help children predict their daily routines or decrease rigid behaviors. They help promote new or familiar routines depending on how they are used. They can be used to support daily routines at home and school such as following directions, taking a bath or brushing teeth. Visuals also help communicate boundaries or expected behaviors. For example, a stop sign could be used to set the expectation that one should stay within the designated area or building.  Visual supports are useful in building communication skills, independence with daily routines, and social interaction.



Loring,Whitney F. M. (2011, March). Visual Supports and Autism Spectrum Disorders. Autism Speaks.


Summer 2020 Group Updates

2020 Summer Group Programs: Extended Registration

“Learning Social Skills on the Ranch “

Ages: 7-12, register by July 16

  • Dates: July 21,23,28, and 30
  • Time: 10:00-11:30 AM

Ages: 13-18, register by July 30

  • Dates: August 4, 6,11,13
  • Time: 10:00-11:30 AM

 “Stable Life Skills”

Register by July 21

Ages: 18-30 years

Dates:  July 28, 31, and August 4,7,11, and 14.

Time: 10-11:30 AM

*Register for our summer groups by clicking on “forms” located under the “About Us” tab

What is Sensory Integration?

What is Sensory Integration?

Sensory integration is the term used to define how individuals receive and process information from the sensory systems.  The sensory systems include vision, auditory, taste, smell, tactile (touch), proprioceptive (sense of joint position), and vestibular (balance and movement). Integration of the sensory system is important for completing daily self-care routines including communication, eating, toileting, bathing, dressing, socializing, and completing household management.  Effective integration of the sensory systems promotes appropriate emotional regulation and coordination of motor systems.

Children who experience difficulty with sensory integration may demonstrate a variety of responses such as difficulty completing daily routines, socializing, attending to tasks, and navigating environmental demands. A child who demonstrates signs and symptoms of impaired sensory integration may be referred by a doctor for occupational therapy evaluation and treatment. Following an evaluation, an occupational therapist may adjust their sensory based intervention approaches depending on the underlying causes. Therapeutic activities may include the implementation of a sensory diet to provide appropriate sensory input throughout the day for improved engagement and independence in daily routines. A sensory diet is a daily routine in which a child uses various inputs such as movement, touch, or proprioceptive input to regulate emotional and behavioral responses depending on the time of day or environment. Sensory based strategies are designed to promote improved emotional regulation, attention, and behavioral responses throughout the day.  If you have questions about sensory integration contact us at .


American Occupational Therapy Association. ( 2017). Frequently Asked Questions About Ayres Sensory Integration. [PDF  File]. Bethesda, MD. Retrived from